For Jack Davis, known as DJ Sev-One, the roar of a train, shrieking steel against steel, is a source of comfort.
“I’ve spent so many hours on these tracks,” Davis said of SEPTA Regional Rail. The 23-year-old disc jockey, producer and artist often travels throughout the Philadelphia region to spin at different bars and at Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania.
Growing up in a strict household, Davis said that his childhood left an impression on his lifestyle choices.
“Graffiti was my high,” he said. “Graffiti was my party.”
Davis said Temple police caught him tagging when he was 19, but that the conversation quickly turned to music after the officers saw his Wu-Tang Clan sweatshirt. Davis added that the DJ and the officers bonded over the group.
“There is this all-time circle between hip-hop and graffiti,” Davis said. “Graffiti is an element of hip-hop.”
Concerning his musical knowledge with producing music, Davis credits his brother, Jeff Davis, also known as Stress The White Boy, who is an RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) certified Gold Record-awarded producer and the owner of ChopShop Studio in Langhorne.
“Everything I have learned was from my brother; that’s where my roots are,” he said.
Davis learned production and worked with well-known artists like Travis McCoy and Joe Budden. His work can also be heard on the track “When I Approach,” found on artist Livin’s 2011 album, “City of Brotherly Love.”
His reputation as a DJ and producer even allowed Davis to attend the Grammys.
“I DJ for Wired 96.5 and basically I do a lot of interviewing for them,” he said.
His experience and confidence prompted other station representatives to bring Davis as a professional to the event.
Davis’ professionalism extends beyond Wired 96.5, supplementing solid impressions with other venues like Parx Casino, where he frequents Fridays from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“[Davis] is extremely talented, is always early to set up and I see nothing but success for him,” said Rhonda Bowers, Entertainment Coordinator for Parx Casino, in an email. Bowers hired Davis on the basis of recommendations and the respectful image he projected.
“My first reaction was, ‘Wow,’” Bowers said. “His mixing is seamless.”
“You always have to look at your crowd to DJ,” Davis said. “You have to create the room. You’re the party.”
He described his DJ style like a formula – it has to be just the right measurements if you want a satisfying reaction.
“I start playing songs that people can sing along to in the beginning to get them used to the music,” Davis said.
But once fluorescent lights replace strobes, music in ears turn to incessant ringing and the sticky glop under shoes is finally bothersome, Davis is done partying.
“You would assume that because I’m a DJ, I would be in that party life – I hate it,” he said. “I have bad anxiety.”
Davis said he attends weekly acupuncture appointments to combat his anxiety. In the future, he hopes to move to California.
“There is so much opportunity there and people are very helpful,” Davis said.
He acknowledged the admiration and praise he received on the East Coast, but preferred the mentality of support and networking on the West Coast.
Davis said he disconnects his personality from surface judgments. His tattoos, pierced ears and styled haircut are just pieces to the puzzle. His tattoos represent favorite movies, music and books.
“My tattoos all speak for themselves,” he said.
Davis had Corey Feldman’s character from the movie “Stand by Me” tattooed on his inner bicep. He also had a self-portrait of him as a child wearing Paul Stanley makeup inked on his forearm. Another tattoo, of Carl Fredricksen from the animated film “Up,” is on Davis’ triceps.
“Just staying positive and being happy, that’s a big goal in my life,” he said. “Physically my goal is to just keep building my brand. Sev-One came from these railroad tracks, from graffiti. People have seen that in high school, on lockers and know that it’s Jack – it’s Sev-One.”
Davis said he understands the stereotype of a DJ and the impression of his appearance. He said he sets standards for himself to counteract those judgments.
“Respectful, gentleman and be humble, those are the big things to me that I always stick by every day,” Davis said.
He shook his head slightly, confessing that humility and gratitude are key.
“I’m not doing anything,” Davis said. “I’m just branding myself and being myself.”
Allison Merchant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.